Lady Hornets (8-5) swamp winless Raytown: South 54-23 Wednesday in "Bulldog Classic" tourney at Kearney. Will face KC: Southeast for consolation Friday at 6:30 p.m.
KEARNEY, Mo. — Chillicothe High School’s basketball Lady Hornets capitalized convincingly and consistently on facing a winless club to jump right back into their winning groove Wednesday.
Two nights after 1-loss host Kearney snapped their 5-games winning streak, the Lady Hornets swamped Raytown: South for three quarters and then drifted into port 54-23 victors in the consolation semifinals of the Bulldog Classic tournament.
The Lady Hornets (8-5) scored 16 of the last 19 points of the first quarter after being momentarily tied at 2-2 and eventually produced 46 of the game’s first 58 points over the first 23 minutes.
“I thought it was a good effort,” Darren Smith, CHS head coach, reviewed his players’ performance in a post-game broadcast interview. “I thought they worked hard. I thought they saw each other extremely well tonight and shared the ball.”
The triumph sends the Lady Hornets into Friday’s 6:30 p.m. consolation finals against Kansas City: Southeast, a program whose 2016-17 squad reached the Class 4 state quarterfinals before losing to Kansas City: St. Pius X one round after SPX rallied from a big fourth-period deficit to eliminate Chillicothe from the state tourney.
This year’s Southeast club, like CHS’, is missing major components of last season’s state participants. Thus far in the tourney at Kearney, it has fallen soundly to traditionally-tough KC: Notre Dame de Sion in the first round and topped Kearney’s junior varsity.
“They’re big. They’ve got 6’3”, 6’2”, 6’2” or something like that,” Smith shared after watching Southeast’s game Wednesday prior to his own team’s.
“…They’re similar to what we faced (Wednesday), in that they’ve got guards who are scrappy, they play a 2-3 zone – very active in it, move very well in it, and (are) ‘handsy.’ Then they’ve got the ‘bigs’ inside.”
Wednesday’s runaway over Raytown: South (0-11) was never in doubt as the Lady Cardinals, while exhibiting some physical athleticism, lacked a keen shooting eye or touch and defensive cohesion.
As a result, there were plenty of possessions for CHS to try to score, many of which the Lady Hornets seized.
Chillicothe never trailed, scoring on its opening possession as Jordan Hibner lobbed a perfectly-measured pass to Kennedie Kieffer in the left low post for a lay-in a half-minute after Kieffer controlled the opening tip.
After failing to score on its second possession, CHS had the ball stolen by Ray-South’s Brianna Garth on its third and she took it in for a tying layup.
The Lady Hornets quickly countered with Hibner driving for a deuce to regain the upper hand they’d keep. Forty-five seconds later, Liberty Cox converted Hunter Keithley’s pass for a right-side lay-in and the Lady Hornets had a multi-possessions margin that would never change.
When backup swing player Maddi Graham drilled a 3-pointer and Kieffer split two defenders to score, Chillicothe had an 18-5 lead going into the second segment.
After limiting Raytown: South to five first-quarter tallies, the Lady Hornets were even stingier in the next eight minutes, yielding only a mid-quarter layup off another steal and a late free throw.
Along the way, they continued lengthening their lead, including Kieffer cashing in for paint or block buckets three times in a couple of minutes. When Maggie Pfaff sank a free throw 13 seconds before halftime, Chillicothe owned a 30-8 advantage heading to the third quarter.
The gap quickly grew to 25 when play resumed before the Lady Cardinals scored consecutively for the first of only two times in the contest.
Still ahead 33-12 at that juncture, the Lady Hornets had their best stretch of the game to position themselves to have the “running clock” in operation at the start of the fourth stanza.
Kieffer ignited what would be a string of 13 unanswered CHS points with a foul shot, then completed a fast-break with a layup off Harlie Jones’ feed.
Jones then switched to the finisher’s roll, draining a trey off Keithley’s inside-out setup and earning a three-points play off a fast-break layup Keithley again facilitated.
Keithley dropped in two free throws of her own before Laney Gaston capped the stretch with a low-post hoop that left Chillicothe possessing a 46-12 lead.
Raytown: South managed an 8-1 response bridging the break between the third and fourth quarters to pare its deficit to 28 for a brief spell, but seven more CHS markers in a row – six of them on Cox point-blank shots set up by passes from Graham and Magy Thomas – had the accelerated timekeeping procedures in use th last several minutes of the contest.
Statistically, Chillicothe’s scoring was led by junior Kieffer’s 14 points and senior Cox’s 10. For each post player, it was a varsity-career best thus far. Cox tacked on a team-high eight rebounds, unofficially, while Keithley and Jones unofficially had three assists each.
Raytown: South’s leading scorer was Garth with nine.
CHS’ only negative from the game was its turnovers total – 14 unofficially.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Smith acknowledged. “I think we’re better than we were when we started the season. I don’t think we’re as good as we going to get, so that’s a good thing.”